By Margaret Maccoll
More than a hundred concerned residents including some on horseback gathered at Joe Bazzo Park at Pomona on Saturday to protest against a proposed closure by Queensland Rail of the town’s pedestrian rail crossing.
Protesters said they had learnt QR planned to close the Reserve Street level crossing located on State Government land ahead of a proposed $1 million upgrade of the railway station.
Protest organiser Alan Bonsall said the crossing had connected either side of the town which were dissected by the train line for 100 years and provided the safest path from one side to the other.
“No one here can recall someone being bumped by a train or being killed by a train at the crossing,” he said.
Protesters said any alternative connections involved walking distances too far for some older residents and would mean navigating busy roads in addition to a train line.
They said an underpass existed but horses shied away from it and it was not usable by cyclists.
The residents were upset there had been no community consultation and they had only discovered QR’s decision to close the crossing by chance.
“In a town of 2700 people, 1364 have signed a petition to protest the closure,” Alan said.
Noosa MP Glen Elmes said anyone coming to Pomona could see the railway station should have been replaced years ago, but having used the crossing for 100 years without accident showed its safety.
He told residents he would take the petition to parliament and discuss the matter with Noosa Council.
Noosa Councillor Frank Wilkie said council’s view had been consistent in support of the community.
He said the council supported keeping the crossing open and QR should upgrade it to meet their safety concerns.
QR CEO Nick Easy said no decision had been made on the crossing at this stage.
“The safety of the Pomona community is our number one priority, and the current pedestrian crossing would require an upgrade to ensure its compliance with national safety standards,” he said.
Nick said “a number of consultation activities” including a community drop-in information session would be held from mid-July.
“A decision to close the crossing will not be made until the community consultation process has been completed,” he said.
“In consultation with Noosa Council and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, we are investigating possible footpath and road crossing options to ensure pedestrians have a safe passage to the two other nearby formal crossings at Reserve Street and Subway Avenue.”
For more information, visit a protesters Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dontdividepomona or contact QR’s Level Crossing Compliance team on 1800 875 099 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.